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Research study to assist Canadian Armed Forces members and veterans transition to civilian life


Shaping Purpose receives funding from Irving Shipbuilding, Desjardins Group, the New Brunswick Health Research Foundation and the Saint John Regional Hospital Foundation for veteran’s health research program 
Fredericton, New Brunswick (April 28, 2017) – A Canada-wide research study aims to help Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members and veterans experience a positive transition to civilian life. 



The study, one of the largest and most in-depth evaluations of its kind for CAF transition programs, will examine the experiences of 84 CAF members and veterans as they transition to civilian life and evaluate the impact of the unique New Brunswick-based program on their transition. 


Shaping Purpose Inc. was initially designed for anyone going through or potentially preparing for a transition in life. This research will build on a pilot by Shaping Purpose Inc. to assist CAF members and veterans define a new purpose in life and plan a way forward using existing programs provided by the CAF Transition Assistance Program and the Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) Vocational Rehabilitation Program. 
Irving Shipbuilding Inc. and Desjardins Group through the official CAF charity, Support Our Troops, along with the New Brunswick Health Research Foundation (NBHRF) and the Saint John Regional Hospital Foundation (SJRHF) are providing more than $570,000 in funding for the program and research.


This second phase research follows an initial study for the pilot program. The research will be conducted by Dr. Duncan Shields, Adjunct Professor at University of British Columbia, Dr. Edward S. Yuzda, MD, Assistant Professor at Dalhousie University and Psychiatrist with Horizon Health Network (HHN), Dr. Amy Palmer of the Operational Stress Injury Clinic (a clinic managed by HHN) in Fredericton, NB, and a Clinical Psychiatrist at HHN. Research management support will be provided by NBHRF and the HHN. 


Shaping Purpose Inc. is currently recruiting across Canada for 84 CAF releasing members and veterans who have experienced a loss of identity and purpose when releasing from the CAF and are now looking to find their new direction to move towards a successful transition. The program will begin in May 2017 and conclude in December 2017. 


The research study and evaluation of the impact of the Shaping Purpose Inc. approach is expected to be completed in December 2018, with the intent to present the findings to the CAF and VAC in the spring of 2019. 


Irving Shipbuilding's $200,000 contribution is part of the Industrial and Regional Benefits program under the National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS) – Canada's 30-year plan to renew the fleets of the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Coast Guard. 
Desjardins Group is contributing $100,000 in funding, NBHRF is providing over $190,000 through one of its Health Research Programs (Value Demonstration Initiative), and SJRHF more than $82,000. In kind support is being provided by the CAF Director of Casualty Support Management, the VAC Research branch and the VAC Service Delivery branch.


Any releasing CAF members or veterans that have experienced a difficult transition can self-nominate by emailing Andrew Garsch at Veterans need to have released in the past 3 years or currently be on the VAC Vocational Rehabilitation Plan.


The Honourable Kent Hehr, Minister of Veterans Affairs 
“Canada's women and men in uniform have served our country with bravery, honour and dignity - they deserve our unwavering support. We know that members releasing from the military often struggle to find their new purpose. That’s why ensuring their health and well-bring and finding new ways to ease the transition to post military life is a primary goal of this government. We welcome the important work of programs like Shaping Purpose and extend our sincere thanks to funding partners for their important contributions towards improving the outcomes for transitioning CAF members and their families.”


The Honourable Stephen Horsman, Deputy Premier of New Brunswick and Minister responsible for Families and Children, Minister responsible for Military Affairs
“As New Brunswick’s minister responsible for military affairs, I am pleased to see important research such as this being conducted to help veterans and members of the Canadian Forces transition to life as civilians. These men and women have made a significant contribution to our country and have gained considerable experience and developed skills that will enable them to contribute in a variety of ways in the public and private sectors. It is important that they have the resources to be able to lead productive and fulfilling lives after they have so courageously served our country.”

Andrew Garsch, Vice President of Program Delivery, Shaping Purpose 
“The transition from the Canadian Armed Forces to civilian life is one of reverse culture-shock that leaves approximately 1,350 veterans each year facing a difficult transition. Shaping Purpose aims to help as many of these individuals as possible gain a better understanding of their desires for their future life and aid them in defining their direction through the transition process.”

Kevin McCoy, President, Irving Shipbuilding Inc. 
“Irving Shipbuilding employs many veterans and recognizes the important role they play and value they contribute in communities across Canada. We are proud to support the Shaping Purpose program and the research that will ultimately lead to improved transitions to civilian life for the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces.”

Grégory Chrispin, Executive Vice-President, Desjardins Group
“As a cooperative organisation, mutual assistance and understanding are at the basis of Desjardins’ commitment to individuals and communities. We believe that this research study will help Canadian veterans and their families build the life they deserve.”

Bruno Battistini, President, CEO and Scientific Director, New Brunswick Health Research Foundation 
“We are very pleased to enter the next phase of validation with this project. We believe in an alternative approach based on psychological and motivational reinforcement to help our service men and women moving-on into active civilian life, and this project represents a social innovative approach toward a healthy and active population.”

Jeff McAloon, President and CEO, Saint John Regional Hospital Foundation
”Under the MindCare New Brunswick banner, the Saint John Regional Hospital Foundation is constantly seeking to fund innovative approaches that will transform the delivery of mental healthcare services in our Province. This investment is part of over $600,000 in funding for mental health projects in 2017 by our Foundation and on behalf of our community; we are very pleased to support this initiative.”

Andrew Garsch
Vice President, Program Delivery
Shaping Purpose
Phone: (506) 461-8385

Sean Lewis 
Director, Communications
Irving Shipbuilding Inc.
Office: (902) 484-4595 

Alysha Elliott
Communications Officer 
Office: (506) 455-0471 
Cell: (506) 476-5327 

Partner Profiles

About Shaping Purpose Inc.: Shaping Purpose Inc. is a non-profit organization looking to provide Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members and veterans the tools to plan their transition into the civilian world in a manner that will allow them to pursue their passions find meaning in their life post-CAF. In the future, they hope to extend their programs to RCMP and First Responders.


About Irving Shipbuilding Inc.: 
Irving Shipbuilding Inc. is the most modern shipbuilder and in-service support provider in North America. Headquartered in Halifax, Nova Scotia, our skilled team and innovative facilities provide efficient building, fabrication, conversion and servicing of vessels and offshore platforms. As Canada’s chosen shipbuilder, Irving Shipbuilding Inc. is working with the Royal Canadian Navy on the next class of Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC) and Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship (AOPS) vessels under the National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS). We are proud to continue our long history as a trusted partner in Canadian shipbuilding. Irving Shipbuilding Inc. is a member of the J.D. Irving, Limited group of companies, a diverse family owned company with operations in Canada and the United States. Learn more at or

About Desjardins Group: Desjardins Group is the leading cooperative financial group in Canada and the sixth largest cooperative financial group in the world, with assets close to $260 billion. It has been rated one of the Best Employers in Canada by Aon Hewitt. To meet the diverse needs of its members and clients, Desjardins offers a full range of products and services to individuals and businesses through its extensive distribution network, online platforms and subsidiaries across Canada. Counted among the world’s strongest banks according to The Banker magazine, Desjardins has one of the highest capital ratios and credit ratings in the industry. 


About NBHRF: NBHRF ( / @NBHRF) is an independent organization governed by a board of directors comprised of key stakeholders from the health research community in New Brunswick Provincial funding is provided by the Regional Development Corporation – Total Development Fund, the Department of Health - Medical Research Fund (MRF) and the Department of Social Development - Wellness Research Fund (WRF) for NBHRF health research programs (HRP), health strategic initiatives (HRI) with federal tri-councils, national health charities and private sector, and the Strategic Investment in Health Research Innovations (SIHRI). The foundation’s mission is to provide leadership and support building health research capacity, improve the health of New Brunswickers and advance the knowledge economy.

About Saint John Regional Hospital Foundation: The Saint John Regional Hospital Foundation raises funds to support excellence and innovation in the areas of equipment, mental health, research, education, and patient comfort at the Saint John Regional Hospital, the largest healthcare centre in the province – providing world-class care for all New Brunswickers. Visit for more information.